Rabies is an acute infection of the central nervous system caused by the rabies virus. It affects mammals like dogs, cats, foxes, bats and humans.
Mode of Transmission
When humans are bitten, scratched or licked over their broken skin by an infected animal, the virus in the saliva of the infected animal enters the human body through the wound and travels through nerves to the brain, leading to encephalitis. Rarely, rabies may also be transmitted by inhalation of virus-containing aerosol or via transplantation of an infected organ.
The incubation period is usually 1 - 3 months, but may vary from less than 1 week to over 1 year.
The initial symptoms of rabies may be nonspecific flu-like symptoms such as malaise, fever, or headache, which may last for days. There may be numbness and tingling around the site of the wound. These are followed after a few days by anxiety, confusion, spasm of swallowing muscles, paralysis, coma and death.
Once symptoms of rabies appear, the disease is nearly always fatal, and treatment is supportive.